Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Settling the Land of Promise: Lehi and His Posterit – Part III Nephites and Lamanites

Continued from the previous post about how the Land of Promise was settled and some of the confusion as to when and how the it was settled, and what parts of the land were occupied and at what time in the Jaredite/Nephite time-line.
    So we see that the Jaredites were gone from the scene by about 500 B.C., or possibly even a little earlier. We also see in the days of the captivity of Coriantor, the son of Moron (Ether 11:18-19), that the Lord sent many prophets into the land, and they “prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction. And that the Lord God would send or bring forth another people to possess the land, by his power, after the manner by which he brought their fathers” (Ether 20-21, emphasis added).
    Now, the word “utter” in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, meant “complete, total, final, absolute, as in utter ruin,” and “destruction” meant “annihilation of anything, “therefore, “utter destruction” meant the total and complete annihilation of the Jaredite kingdom and people. Thus, the Lord was telling the Jaredites, through his prophets, that unless they repented, “the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction, or complete annihilation.
Ether telling Coriantumnr that the Lord would utterly destroy him and his people unless he repented

In addition, Ether later prophesied to Coriantumr that unless he repented of his evil and ceased the war, “they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself, and that he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance…and every soul would be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21), but that if he would repent, and all his household repent, “the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people” (Ether 13:20).
     Now in the latter years of Ether’s father, Coriantor, the prophets were foretelling that “the Lord God would send or bring forth another people,” which is a future tense statement, meaning the Lord had not yet brought those people to the Land of Promise to inherit the land from the Jaredites. This might well place the total destruction of the Jaredite kingdom closer to the time Lehi left Jerusalem, around 600 BC.
    In any event, when Lehi reached the Land of Promise, the Jaredites, except for Coriantumr, would have been gone from off the face of the land, which would have been near 587 BC, so we see that extending the Jaredite existence much beyond this time would be contrary to the scriptural record (the events of Coriantumr meeting the Mulekites could have occurred within a short time of Lehi landing or for up to a couple of hundred years later—not information is available to determine this).
    Now, when Lehi landed in the area that Mormon later called “…in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:30), they were far to the south in the Land of Nephi. There they spent a year or two where Lehi’s health deteriorated, which it already had aboard the ship (1 Nephi 18:18), where he blessed all his family and that of Ishmael, and prophesied to all of them about the Lord giving this land to him and his posterity.
    Since there is no mention of Lehi journeying anywhere else after landing, it can be assumed that he lived and died where they handed, in the land of his descendants first inheritance. At this time, all of those who came with Lehi on the ship that Nephi built lived in this general area, probably quite close to one another for communal defense and benefit.
Lehi prophecies to his family and the sons of Ishmael

During this time Nephi did much preaching to his  brothers and the others (1 Nephi 19:23 to 22:31), as did Lehi, who preached to all, and about the land being promised to them (2 Nephi 1:1-27), then he spoke to each of the males directly and giving them his father’s blessing upon each (2 Nephi 1:28 to 3:25), whereupon Nephi preached further (2 Nephi 4:1 to 4:35) whereupon the tone changes and Nephi tells us of the anger of his brethren toward him (2 Nephi 5:1-2), and that the Lord warned Nephi to depart from them and flee into the wilderness and take all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5).
    Now, Nephi was well aware that Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael sought to take away his life (2 Nephi 5:4). Not only had he already been attacked by them, tied up to be left in the desert to die, threatened to be thrown off a high cliff into the sea, and threatened so seriously the Lord charged him with power to strike those who sought to touch him, then bound up on his ship during a life-threatening storm—which should suggest to the most liberal of theorists that Nephi took his departure to a far off area to rid himself of his brothers and to be rid of their presence, in carrying out the commands of the Lord.
    Despite the seriousness of the situation and the need to put distance between himself and his brothers who wanted to kill him, Sorenson claims that Lehi’s landing site was along the Pacific Coast of Guatemala near the border of El Salvador, and that the City of Nephi was very near present day Guatemala City—a distance of about 75 miles apart. This means that Nephi traveled a distance of about 75 miles—about a four day trip—from their first landing site to the area where he built his city. We should keep in mind that this journey was not a casual trip, for he was ‘fleeing” from his brothers who wanted to kill him. The word “flee” in the 1828 dictionary meant: “to run with rapidity, as from danger; to hasten from danger; to hasten away,” thus it should be understood that this journey of Nephi would have been in haste, hurrying away from their previous location. No doubt that time frame and distance would have been far greater than Sorenson claims.
    Thus, the idea that Nephi went only a short distance before settling into the area where he built the city of Nephi is unrealistic. As Nephi describes it: “we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents” (2 Nephi 5:7).
    Now the term “many days” can mean anything at all. As an example, the first use of the term was when Lehi was traveling along by the Red Sea, in the more fertile parts of the wilderness, where it states: “And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with our bows and our arrows and our stones and our slings…And after we had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families” (1 Nephi 16:15,17).
After “many days” the party stopped and pitched their tents and “tarried for a time” before continuing

Now these journeys between stops, where tents were pitched and they settled “for a time,” is typically 4 to 10 days, according to current Bedouin practices, where they spend up to a week to a month resting up before traveling on. This is repeated again (1 Nephi 16:33). Then, once reaching Bountiful after an eight-year journey which Nephi called “journeying for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:4). Then after being in the Land of Bountiful “for the space of many days,” the Lord told him to get into the mountain, where he instructed Nephi to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:7,8). After threatening Nephi, and being confounded, and kept from even touching Nephi, “for the space of many days” (1 Nepihi 17:52).
    The next time “many days” is mentioned is when they were in the ship on the sea, “after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 18:9); and still later, after being released from being bound to the ship during the storm, Nephi says that “it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23). Then, following Lehi’s death, Nephi writes: “Not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:13), which brings us to the “many days” of Nephi’s flight away from his brothers.
    As can be seen, there is no way to determine how long “many days” would be. It appears it could be just a handful, or, as in the case of sailing halfway around the world, could be a month or two or more. So while some theorists want to claim that “many days” is a limited amount of time, it seems foolhardy to try and place a limit or time frame to Nephi’s statements.
    In turning to Mormon’s statement, in 82 BC, before the Lord came in his glory to visit the Nephites after his resurrection, the statement appears: “And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory” (Alma 9:26)—here “not many days” is about 115 years (82 BC to 33 AD).
    It should also be kept in mind, that in a land that is far longer north to south than it is wide, east to west, one would think that his flight in the wilderness would have taken him far to the north of their landing site, and many days travel away from those who wanted to kill him.

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